Israeli Rabbi Charged With Running Kashrut Racket Gives Up Kosher Supervision Duties

Chief rabbi of Holon, Avraham Yosef, was charged in December with breach of trust in connection to family-run kashrut services. He will stay on as the city's rabbi.

Nir Kafri

Holon’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Avraham Yosef, told the High Court of Justice he was stepping down as the city’s chief kashrut supervisor, as he faces charges of exploiting this position to advance his personal interest and his family’s kashrut enterprise. He will, however, remain the city’s rabbi and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.

Yosef’s announcement followed a petition to the High Court by the religious Zionist civil-society organization Ne’emanei Torah V’Avoda, demanding that Israel’s religious services minister remove Yosef from his state-funded position.

According to the indictment filed in December, Yosef exploited his position as head of kashrut services in Holon and in Or Yehuda to promote the Beit Yosef kashrut organization, which is run by his younger brother, Moshe. Both are sons of Ovadia Yosef the former Sephardi chief rabbi and spiritual mentor to the Shas party, who died in 2013.

A lawyer who is representing Ne’emanei Torah V’Avoda in the petition said that Yosef should be suspended until the end of legal proceedings against him.

Yosef’s attorneys wrote, in a response to the petition last week, that their client chose to relinquish until the end of proceedings his responsibility for kashrut issues to Holon’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, in order to prevent “gossip.”

Until the investigation against him became public, Yosef was considered a contender for the post of Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi. In the end, his brother Yitzhak ran and was chosen.